Feeling depressed and anxious often exacerbates gambling addiction, so treating these disorders can make it easier to break the cycle and return to a normal life. Problems with gambling are detrimental to physical and psychological health. People living with this addiction may experience depression, migraine, distress, bowel disorders, and other anxiety-related problems. If gambling becomes a problem, it can lead to low self-esteem, stress, anxiety and depression.
The prognosis for players with chronic problems is poor. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, up to one in five suicide attempts. Gambling has the highest suicide rate of all addictions, and only schizophrenia has a higher rate among mental disorders. Depression is a common mental health problem that involves a low mood and a loss of interest in activities.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are common both for people with gambling problems and for their families. If you have a gambling problem, you'll be surprised to learn that there's a big chance you'll also suffer from depression; it's estimated that 76% of problem players are likely to have major depressive disorder. For example, you can bet to try to feel better about yourself when you're depressed or to distract yourself if you're angry or upset. Beyond the initial feelings of sadness about losing, when someone has a gambling problem they may feel depressed, as well as perhaps experience feelings of shame and guilt.
Your depression may have caused you to turn to gambling in the first place, to help ease feelings of loneliness, boredom, or to give you a boost when you feel depressed. If you already have a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, compulsive gambling can worsen your symptoms. One study found biopsychosocial effects caused by pathological gambling, leading to direct triggers and worsening depression, anxiety, obsessive disorders and personality disorders. Depression tends to increase if they consistently bet more than they intend and end up in financial turmoil, or if they try to quit smoking and don't succeed.
In addition to this, the connection between mood and play is not always one-way and being depressed can push someone to bet in the first place. If you consider the extreme excitement you feel when you win and the crushing disappointment when you lose, it's easy to understand why depression and gambling are a dangerous combination. Most people experience some of these signs at different times in their lives, but if you notice that they are happening more often, you may feel depressed. Many people can suffer from both depression and gambling problems, but you don't have to be one of them.
Fong, MD, author of “The Biopsychosocial Consequences of Pathological Gambling”, gambling aggravates depression, stress-related conditions such as hypertension, insomnia, anxiety disorders and substance use problems. What you can do is get to the root of whatever leads you to play, whether it's financial stress, boredom, depression, anxiety or something else.